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Blood and Candle Smoke

Tom RussellAudio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Price: $11.79 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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It would be easy for Tom Russell to coast on reputation alone. With a career stretching back nearly four decades, and a catalog of more than 20 albums, the consummate storyteller has amassed a devoted following that cherishes his vivid, novelistic tales evoking the spirit of the American experience in tightly constructed, panoramic vignettes. Among his most ardent fans are fellow artists: ... Read more in Amazon's Tom Russell Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 15, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Shout Factory
  • ASIN: B002JIH8PG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,483 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam
2. Santa Ana Wind
3. Nina Simone
4. Criminology
5. Crosses of San Carlos
6. Finding You
7. Mississippi River Runnin' Backwards
8. The Most Dangerous Woman in America
9. Don't Look Down
10. Guadalupe
11. American Rivers
12. Darkness Visible

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Tom Russell is an artist in every sense of the word. He writes beautiful lyrics, he puts those words to some fantastic music, he writes books, and he can paint like a God. He encompasses the true meaning of the word artist. But my familiarity of Mr. Russell lies mostly in his music. He writes from the heart and his songs tell great stories, sometimes true stories he himself has experienced.

His latest record, Blood and Candle Smoke is no exception. The tunes on this new record are all so abundant in texture and the images projected into your brain are a result of his strong lyrics. You will believe you are watching it on film instead of hearing it. I guess you could say it is so good, it confuses the senses. I'm not sure there is anyone on the scene today who can tell a story via music as well as Tom Russell.

The first track on Blood and Candle Smoke is East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam. This song is an account of Tom Russell's stint in Nigeria in the late 60's. It's a brilliant contrast or comparison between him teaching in Africa while at the same time others his age back in the states are delving in the world of drugs and free love that occurred within the "hippie" counter-culture. Russell sings, "moveable feast of war and memory, a dark old lullaby/it was a smoke of a thousand cook-fires it was the wrong end of a gun/Yeah, East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam". He paints a graphically explicit picture of his personal adventure while teaching in Nigeria. We, as listeners, definitely feel as if we are there, surrounded by the red clay, the dust and smoke. The horns, the guitars, the snare drum all add to the mood of this brilliantly written and arranged song. It's an impressive way to start the record.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLOOD & CANDLE SMOKE September 15, 2009
Format:Audio CD
BLOOD AND CANDLE SMOKE. By Tom Russell. (Shout Factory LLC, 2009. 2042-A Armacost Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025) CD $15.99

I have to smile with Tom Russell's most recent journey away from sure ballad-making with his new CD "Blood and Candle Smoke" on the Shout Factory label. This introspective collection of twelve tracks is perhaps more like orchestrated poetry, certainly more subdued and cryptic than any of his twenty albums since the 70s. All of these tracks are the caliber of songs that will grow on you, becoming richer with each successive listening. And that is the test at this juncture, I think, not whether a Nashville hook line will sell a million copies in six months.

Perhaps I misjudge the music buying public, but Tom may lose a fan or two with this one, yet I'm quite pleased that he continues to explore thought-provoking territory where he will gain even more diverse fans over time, a natural evolution that begs the question, "Do we in our 60s have something (left) to impart, something to leave behind?"

This personal excursion is not light listening, boys (and girls), each track full of pregnant and relevant phrases, expertly and consistently mixed and recorded to enhance the subject matter of each that range from the love song "Finding You" to the more prophetic "Mississippi River Running Backwards" - truly a complete work of art. I enjoyed every single song, especially "Nina Simone", "Guadalupe", "Crosses of San Carlos" and "East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam".

My only disappointment was that the CD package contained no liner notes or lyrics, because there are some rich lines here that really need to be reread and savored (so I just keep listening).
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great CD, one of Tom Russell's best September 24, 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I'll keep this short and just agree with the other two (so far) reviewers and say that this is one of Tom Russell's best recordings. I especially like the two songs that refer to his time in Nigeria ("East of Woodstock...," "Criminology") and "Guadalupe."

My copy of the CD included liner notes with all the lyrics and listing of everyone involved in each song.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This really is a great recording October 21, 2009
By Tom
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
A perspicacious and prolific writer, Tom Russell is a fascinating fellow.
Over time his songs always find a way into my consciousness...

This record is laden with the classic Tom Russell perspective,
but Tom's musical direction and style continues to grow and evolve.
This recording takes full advantage of the recording studio,
and the sound has a distinctive production style.

I bought tickets to see him play here again in a few weeks,
looking forward to seeing how he arranges some of these songs live.

If you are familiar with Tom Russell's music you will not be disappointed.
If you are exploring his music for the first time, this is an excellent choice.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Man who walks the talk October 30, 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I first saw Tom Russell perform live at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. I loved his music before seeing him perform, and after seeing his interaction with the audience, loved the man. I then read Tom's lyrics to some of the songs on "Blood and Candle Smoke" in the 39th issue of the Berkeley Poetry Review put out by the students of UC Berkeley. How can you not respect a man who helps future writers by contributing his work to a poetry magazine from which he will not receive any payment? And to see his lyrics in the same book as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane di Prima, Al Young and other luminary poets was just so right. Tom Russell is the perfect voice of the American experience. Lyrical rap without the violence and music that is all his, not sampled from someone else. If you ever have a chance, see Tom perform live. If not, buy his music, and play it loud, play it low, but play it and think about this ol' world that we inhabit and can make it a bit better, if we try.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Master Storyteller
Haunting, soulful, best of Tom Russell, I think! He is such a masterful storyteller, I can get lost in each of his songs. Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Karen Yowell
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a Fan
Some people probably think Tom Russell is great. Unfortunately, I found the album boring and difficult to listen to it. Perhaps some artists should remain obscure.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Offering from Tom Russell
This is an incredibly powerful CD.

Tom holds back no emotions.

East of Woodstock, West of Viet Nam is the best track. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Christopher A. Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars can't go wrong
What more can I say than You can't go wrong when you pick a "Tom Russell".....This is just good. The first song has a mexicanish flavor, and the rest are just as good. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Lori
5.0 out of 5 stars My new musical hero
Tom Russell is an amazing artist: singer, songwriter, painter, novelist, poet. An alt country, Beat, very profound sensibility that makes me feel deeply. Read more
Published on July 1, 2012 by David Wallin
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Tom Russell Album
Not quite his best album (Love and Fear is better, in my opinion), this is still a great collection of Russell's latest efforts.
Published on December 29, 2010 by W. Gordon
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Mix
I have been a sometimey Tom Russell fan ever since I was introduced to his songwriting via a cover of one of his songs by Dave Alvin. Read more
Published on July 11, 2010 by Kurt Harding
4.0 out of 5 stars Tom's getting better!
This is a wonderful CD. Tom Russell is expanding into new areas and is not just skating on old stuff. His songwriting is brilliant. Read more
Published on December 28, 2009 by Big John
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Russell PLUS Calexico!!!!!!!!!!
Nobody can tell a story in song quite like Tom Russell. You don't just hear the words, you can feel the Santa Ana winds blowing, see the faces of the weathered characters, even... Read more
Published on December 16, 2009 by R. Kyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Russell's Best Yet !!
This is truly one of Tom's finest recordings .The production and arrangement of the songs coupled with the incredible musicianship provided by Colexico , makes this one of Tom's... Read more
Published on November 30, 2009 by Michael Jeffrey Strobel
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